A Sabahan lass’ encounter with a scaly mammal when she was a child makes her a passionate and experienced researcher who hopes to prevent the species from going into extinction.
Elisa Panjang, 35, from Sandakan has recently released a book on Pangolins which she has co-authored in two chapters of the 630-page scientific publication.
Pangolin is categorised as endangered species as it is rampantly being poached and smuggled.
Though Elisa is not a stranger in conservation works, particularly in Sabah. But, BORNEO ECHO thinks that it gives better perspective on what the book is all about by knowing more about Elisa.
Why study specifically about pangolins? How do you get to be excited about the species?
My interest in pangolins started when I was still a child in 1994. As a child who lived in a village surrounded by forest, I got to see variety of wildlife and got familiar with them.
There was a time, I encountered a pangolin at the edge of the forest while playing with friends, I got very fascinated by the animal because I am not familiar and never seen the animal.
My mother explained and helped me to understand about the animal (turned out to be a pangolin). Since that moment, I got hooked on the pangolins.
Growing up in 1990s, it was very difficult to get information about pangolins because there is very limited book or films about pangolins.
Only a decade ago, research works on pangolins started in the region and we got more information about pangolins.
When I did my bachelor’s degree in 2009, this was when I really started my research even though in the beginning there were lots of challenges, but I managed to keep on going and works on pangolins until today.
Which institution are you currently attached to?
I am a PhD student from Cardiff University, UK and also works as a Pangolin Conservation Officer at Danau Girang Field Centre.
With the extinction of Sabah’s last rhino recently? Does it affect you emotionally? What can be done to make sure that pangolins will not be in the extinction list?
As a young conservationist, I take this incident as a learning process.
I think what important is especially the young conservationists who will be the one to protects the wildlife in the next generations to learn and never making the same mistakes.
About your book “Pangolins”.
The book “Pangolins: Science, Society and Conservation” consists of four main topics discussing about the eight pangolin species.
I was fortunate to be involved in the co-writing of the two chapters.
The first one is about the biology, ecology and status of Sunda pangolin, which is one of the species native to Southeast Asia. Another chapter is on conservation planning, research and finance.
My part was discussing about developing robust monitoring methodologies for pangolin conservation.
What is the significance of this book?
I think the book is very important because it contained most up to date scientific knowledge on the species and their conservation.
The information in this book is valuable for researchers and students especially in species conservation science, planning and policymaking.
Some of the chapters discussed about developing methods/tools to start long term monitoring of pangolins e.g. pangolin population study.
Is it your first publication?
For scientific book about pangolins, yes.
This year, I also have co-authored and released a pangolin children storybook called “Animals of Kinabatangan”.
If you love to purchase the book or to show support, you may do so by clicking this link